Head and Neck Cancer Program

The Head and Neck Cancer Program at Beaumont offers comprehensive evaluation and treatment for patients who have been diagnosed with a head and/or neck cancer disorder. The program is designed to meet the individual needs of the patient. Evaluation and treatment is based on a physician's referral.

Service Overview

Beaumont's Head and Neck Cancer Program offers an interdisciplinary team of professionals dedicated to working with individuals who have been diagnosed with a head and/or neck cancer. The interdisciplinary team can consist of Speech and Language Pathology and Physical Therapy. The frequency and duration of treatment is determined by medical necessity based on the patient's condition. Each treatment session is usually 30-50 minutes, 2-3 times per week. The Center for Adult Communication Disorders host Head and Neck Cancer Informational Meetings the second Thursday of every other month at noon. Topics vary by meeting and may include communication device updates, insurance coverage discussions, and question and answer sessions. Meetings provide an opportunity for socialization with other people with communication or swallowing deficits as a result of head and/or neck cancer.

What is TEP?

During tracheoesophageal (TEP) voice restoration surgery, an opening, or puncture, is made through the posterior wall of the trachea, extending through the anterior wall of the esophagus. A prosthesis is then inserted into the puncture or, in some cases, a stenting catheter is placed at the time of tracheoesophageal voice restoration surgery and then replaced with a prosthesis. When the prosthesis is in place, the stoma is occluded manually or with a tracheostoma valve, and the prosthesis acts as a shunt through which pulmonary air passes during exhalation. The air enters the esophagus and travels through the upper esophageal sphincter, causing the sphincter and surrounding tissues to vibrate. This creates sound that can be used for tracheoesophageal speech. The prosthesis prevents the puncture from closing and also prevents food and liquid from entering the trachea during swallowing.

Source: Speech-Language-Hearing Association (2004). Evaluation and Treatment for Tracheoesophageal Puncture and
Prosthesis: Technical Report.

Treatment Options

Pre-operative consultation addresses:

  • Anatomical and physiological changes affecting swallowing and communication
  • Communication and swallowing options
  • Rehabilitation process
  • Inpatient consultation is initiated when the physician recommends the patient is ready to communicate or eat

Post-operative rehabilitation:

  • Is initiated when the physician feels a patient is medically ready for treatment
  • Is administered by a certified Speech-Language Pathologist who evaluates the rehab potential
  • Includes diet recommendations, use of an artificial laryngeal device, esophageal speech and/or tracheoesophagealvoice prosthesis

Insurance

Coverage from most major insurance companies is accepted, but coverage for treatment depends on individual insurance benefits.